Often times court's will go with the "status quo" or existing state of affairs. Because of this fact, it is often difficult for a parent that has been the bread-earner of the family so his or her spouse could stay home and raise the children to get joint physical custody, and nearly impossible for that parent to get sole physical custody. More often than not when there is a stay-at-home parent in Utah, the father/husband is the bread earner. For purposes of this blog we'll assume such is the case.
So how can you prove that the kids are better off with a joint arrangement? Unless dad can prove to the court that mom is somehow unfit to raise the kids, it is often necessary to hire a custody evaluator. A custody evaluator is a trained professional, often a psychologist or psychiatrist, that spends time with both parents and the kids, conducts interviews, observes behavior, and then makes recommendations to the court.
You can probably guess that historically custody evaluators thought that mom should have the children the bulk of the time. However, as times have changed (and dads have lobbied) more and more often custody evaluators are recommending joint physical custody, the closer to 50/50 the better. Unless there is a serious issue with one of the parents, most custody evaluators have determined that joint physical custody is best for children, and recommend it if possible.
If you are in a custody battle and your spouse has raised the children for most of their lives, it is likely that the court will award custody based on this model unless you hire a custody evaluator. Hiring a custody evaluator evens the playing field, and judges almost always adopt the evaluators recommendations. A custody evaluator will cost you some money, but typically it is worth it if your goal is to have your children more than you would with standard minimum visitation.
Contact Pearson Law Firm for a free consultation with an experienced Utah divorce attorney. Call 801-888-0991